The Corner

National Security & Defense

Trump’s Monday, Stirring the Hearts of Sanders, Trumka, and Unions

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

You Down On TPP? Yeah, You Know Me.

A reminder of what TPP would have actually done:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a sweeping trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration with 11 U.S. trading partners on both sides of the Pacific. It includes six countries that have already signed free-trade agreements with the United States — Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, and Singapore — and five that would be new FTA partners — New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Japan.

TPP would eliminate 18,000 tariffs now imposed on U.S. exports to other TPP countries. Nearly 90 percent of those duties would go to zero upon enactment, and nearly all would be eliminated within 16 years. U.S. duties would also be phased out almost completely, with the steepest reduction on imported apparel and footwear, delivering benefits directly to low-income U.S. households.

If your business requires importing raw materials from any of those countries, TPP looked like a good deal. If your company was interested in having more competitive prices while selling in New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam, or Japan, it looked like a good deal. If you wanted to buy stuff made in those countries – check the labels on the clothes you’re wearing – for a lower price, TPP looks like a good deal.

It’s worth remembering that a U.S. withdrawal from TPP probably would have happened even if Hillary Clinton had won the election. Last August on the campaign trail, Clinton pledged, “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages — including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.” She could have flipped on that promise, but then the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic party would be revolting – er, would be in a state of revolt.

If low tariffs are such a good idea, why does the public fear them so? Which came first, the politicians fueling to protectionist attitudes, or the protectionist attitudes striking fear into the hearts of the politicians? Why was Obama so unable to persuade his own party on his own trade deal?

Speaking of Sanders

Sanders praised Trump’s decision, saying TPP is “dead and gone”.

“Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations,” Sanders said in a statement. “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

“For the past 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals … which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers,” he said.

A lot of political figures who don’t usually applaud a Republican president were cheering Monday. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, “today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people.”

Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa:

“Today, President Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. With this decision, the president has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.

“The Teamsters Union has been on the frontline of the fight to stop destructive trade deals like the TPP, China PNTR, CAFTA and NAFTA for decades. Millions of working men and women saw their jobs leave the country as free trade policies undermined our manufacturing industry. We hope that President Trump’s meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Jan. 31 opens a real dialogue about fixing the flawed NAFTA.

Usually, a Republican would be really wary about any decision that brought cheers from Bernie Sanders, Trumka, and the big unions.